Tua Tagovailoa’s family will settle in to watch Tua play in his second consecutive national championship game, but this time it is expected. Tua’s parents, Galu and Diane Tagovailoa, moved across the country to be with their son and are regulars at the Alabama football games.
Tua was inserted into the 2018 title game in the second half, but this time the quarterback is the undisputed leader of the Crimson Tide. Alabama will play this year’s title game on the West Coast, much closer to Hawaii. While Tua’s family members will be in attendance for the game, the reports of 400 people appear to have been exaggerated.
“I do have a lot of family members, but if you could ask anyone in here if they can name 400 people, I don’t think anyone could even name 100 off the top of their head,” Tua told Sports Illustrated.
Such is life in the spotlight when you are an Alabama quarterback. With Tua’s brother, Taulia Tagovailoa, heading to Alabama next season, Galu and Diane will be driving to Tuscaloosa for a few more years. Galu admitted that Tua’s game-winning throw in the 2018 title game changed the lives of their family.
“When Tua threw that ball, it changed everything,” Galu explained to Bleacher Report. “At the same time, it didn’t change us as a family. We took the blessings and have moved forward. We’re not running around thinking we’re special.”
Learn more about Tua’s parents and family.
1. Tua’s Family Moved to Alabama From Hawaii
It was a difficult decision, but Tua’s parents decided to move the family from Hawaii to be with Tua in Alabama. This also meant Tua’s younger brother would finish his high school football career in Alabama, and his sister would go to school there as well. The family released a statement to KHON 2 announcing the move.
“Thank you to the state of Hawaii for the support over the years,” the Tagovailoa family told KHON.
It may be far from home, but Tua’s parents felt like it was the best move for the entire family to be together.
“For us to be around my son Tua … that’s the main reason for the move,” Galu told AL.com. “We are a family and want to keep it as a family. That’s what the move is about.”
2. Tua’s Dad, Galu, Was Criticized After Tua Said His Father Would “Use the Belt” If He Had a Bad Game
Tua’s family has also had its share of criticism. An ESPN College Gameday segment had an interview with Tua’s parents discussing what would happen if Tua had a bad game when he was growing up in Hawaii. Tua alluded to being disciplined by his father. Here is a portion of the comments via Sports Illustrated.
“If I don’t perform well, perform the way I’m supposed to, I’m gonna get it after,” Tua said, before adding, “Just know the belt was involved and other things were involved, as well.”
Tua’s dad has a blast confirming the awful behavior, saying, “I was tough. He can go 15-for-15 with four touchdowns, but when he throws a pick, it’s the worst game. It’s the worst game.”
3. Tua Is Originally From Hawaii & Comes From a Samoan Family Heritage
There has been an influx of Hawaiian quarterbacks in both college football and the NFL. Marcus Mariota is widely known for what he did at Oregon, and now in the NFL with the Titans. Tua and UCF’s McKenzie Milton have followed in Mariota’s footsteps. During a 2015 interview with Sports Illustrated, Tua’s father explained that his success was a reflection of his entire family and Samoan heritage.
Seu envisioned Tua becoming a varsity quarterback but did not live to see it; when Tua talks about this, his voice trails off. Galu steps in, explaining that in Samoan culture, it is a great honor to have your name known. Not because it brings attention to the individual, but because a village, and a people, are glorified as one. Mariota is hailed as a hero both for his achievement and because he understands he is only one piece of an intricately woven Polynesian fabric. His name being known honors him, but it honors the elders in his family more.
“Hearing his name called over the loudspeaker, our name, that would have brought him, the head of our family, so much pride,” Galu says of Seu. In an ancient Samoan tradition, the paternal grandfather names the firstborn child. So “Tua” comes from Seu.
4. Tua Is Named After a Bird That Circled the Samoan Villages of Vatia & Aua
According to Sports Illustrated, Tua’s unique name came from his grandfather, and it was inspired by a bird that circled the Samoan Villages of Vatia and Aua. Much like Galu explained about Tua’s accomplishments, Tua’s name is about his community. Sports Illustrated detailed the inspiration for Tua.
Galu hails from the Samoan villages of Vatia and Aua, which are connected by a mountain ridge. Tua is named for a bird that circled the islands and, when caught and killed, was divided among the Tagoilelagi, paramount family, Ga’ote’ote, his sister, and the village. His name is a record of this tradition, and it is a great honor that his grandfather, tasked with passing on ancestral legends and stories, asked that Tua be called this. It means Tua plays not for himself, but for all who nurtured him.
Vatia, with its lush rainforests and limited development, isn’t well known by outsiders. Tua can change that. Many Samoans exhibit tautua, a selfless and fearless service for the good of the ‘āiga, family, and the village. But as Tua soars, he transcends this, elevating his family, his people, his community, calling out for others to follow. He brings recognition and honor to a sacred space. Do not celebrate Tua, he says. Celebrate Tuanigamanuolepola Tagovailoa. Celebrate us.
5. Tua & His Family Are Devout Christians
Tua comes from a family of devout Christians. His uncle, Tuli Amosa, pastors a church in Hawaii. According to AL.com, Tua attended mass with Nick Saban on his Alabama recruiting visit. Tua also toured the Church of the Highlands during his Tuscaloosa visit, and is now a member of the church.
“I was so surprised to see him at our youth Bible gathering, but that’s just who he is,” Tuli explained to AL.com. “You can tell where his thoughts are at, and he is like 10 years ahead of his age right now, which is an awesome thing.”
Tua spent the majority of his freshman season as the backup quarterback to Jalen Hurts. At halftime of the 2018 national championship, Saban decided to put Tua into the game after Alabama was trailing. Tua orchestrated an impressive comeback, and after the game he credited his faith for keeping him calm under pressure.
“All glory goes to God,” Tua told ESPN (via AL.com). “I can’t describe what He’s done for me and my family. Who would have ever thought I would have been here, right now in this moment. So, you know, thank God for that, and I’d just like to thank my teammates and coach Saban for giving me the opportunity.”